Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Perceived legal liability differences drive rift between US and UK

What checks power? Information.

The good leaks like the Downing Street Memo documents are coming out of the UK, not the US. A couple of questions arise:

  • Why is the UK the source of valuable information about the legality of the Iraqi war?

  • What would motivate the rift between the US and UK intelligence services?

  • What prospects are there for accountability?

  • Will the President fire special counsel Fitzgerald?

    Leakers' Perceived liability differences

    At the heart of the rift between the US and UK intelligence is the different legal exposure the US and UK intelligence services have; and the likelihood UK intelligence agents will be held accountable for war crimes.

    In reality, both the US and UK are accountable to the rule of law. The US is just deeper in denial to its liability, and sees nothing that will reign it in. Similar to the Brownshirts in the 1930s.

    NSA and GCHQ spying on Americans

    It's not hard to find an example contrasting the US and UK approaches. One example is the GCHQ Gunn leak showing the UK spies on UN diplomats in the US. She wasn't convicted.

    The agents are willing to break the law in the UK when the national security is being undermined by unlawful government operations. The US personnel are more likely to engage in book writing, lawsuits, or quiet grumbling.

    On the other hand, the US actively goes after its good guys. Plame is a case in point.

    Differences in accountability

    The UK is more assertive in complying with the rule of law.

    Why the difference? It has to do with how effective the US and UK governments are in smearing those who speak out. Because the UK has a higher respect for the rule of law, the matters are quickly brought before the court, and the issue is over.

    The US, on the other hand, will secretly try cases in the courts, while openly engaging in smear efforts, as evidenced by the Plame affair.

    The US believes it is above the law; and that smearing is just part of the game. However, UK personnel know that despite the political jockeying and press battles, there's a real possibility that those who dare smear could be held criminally liable for their involvement into he larger criminal conspiracy.

    Immediacy of the investigation

    The other difference is that the UK has been recently attacked and is involved in an ongoing investigation. The UK wants to keep information related to the planning kept under wraps.

    If UK forces condone unlawful rendition, it does more than compromise information. Those agents who participated in the rendition could be held liable. On this count, the US intelligence services, as evidenced by the allegations against the CIA in Milan, Italy show that where the US chooses to do nothing to restrain its personnel, foreign countries may act.

    Black propaganda

    Sometimes what happens is that an opposing intelligence service can get hold of information, and make it look like a friendly nation has leaked it. It remains to be understood whether the photo leak was from the US or someone that appears to be from the US, but is actually from somewhere else.

    With respect to intelligence-gathering in Pakistan, one of the links between the London Bombers was a phone call made to Bin Ladin. Who leaked that? Looks like the UK did.

    Shared inaction

    Undermining national objectives is more than simply leaking information. Sometimes its failing to act when you have that information: Both the US and UK suffer from this defect.

    MI5 failed to act on intelligence about key personnel related to the UK-MI5 involvement in the Libyan bombing; and the US intelligence service, on the other hand, forwarded information but policy makers refused to act. CIA personnel have filed employment grievances.

    Shared violations

    UK and US intelligence issues have been revealed in the Bolton investigation. Bolton revealed that NSA spies on American citizens. They like to call it "training," but that is just a way to get out of a jam when they are caught engaging in illegal intelligence gathering.

    Bolton put pressure on Brazilian chemical inspectors in Iraq to be quiet; when they refused he had them fired.


    At the heart of the rift between the US and the UK intelligence services is the different perceived legal liability each country has; and the perceived threat mavericks will face if they speak out.

    The US, because of its military power and practice of ignoring the law, has emboldened the leadership not only to violate the laws, but to intimidate its own agents into compliance.

    Bullies eventually fall. The smart ones go willingly. The dumb ones fight, even when they have lost.

    Bush is a dumb bully. The Democrats aren't all that bright either. Both the RNC and DNC enjoy using non-sense and illogical arguments to mobilize their sides. This does little to assert the rule of law.

    Meanwhile, Fitzgerald remains under the threat of being fired. They eliminated the Independent Counsel statute in 1999. Bush shows contempt for the laws that exist. There's no reason for him to follow the laws that are no longer applicable.

    Could there be another Nixonian Saturday Night Massacre as we saw in the 1970s in firing a special counsel? You bet. But it's too early to play that card. Bush is still winning and he still wants Fitzgerald to play his cards, reveal his information, and then the smearing will continue.


    IN a further sign that the US and UK intelligence and law enforcement are not adequately coordinated, it took days after the leaks to come up with an absurd excuse. NYPD says, "Ooops, we thought UK law enforcement had vetted the info."

    Huh? Law enforcement should know better than that.

    Now we know the US is looking at this not as a war, but as a law enforcement issue.

    Huh? How many times have we been told, "This is a war," and "if x-person was in power, they would treat this war as a law enforcement issue. . . " [Rove said that, further undermining his credibility.

    Sensitive ongoing investigation related to a war

    Information about an ongoing investigation is never released, especially when it involves sources, operations, methods, and enemy capabilities. Again, the release of this information shows that the US is looking at this war as a "law enforcement issue" and not as a real war. No wonder there's been no mobilizatoin since 9-11.

    Allegedly reckless and failure of oversight

    It's irresponsible to release details of how to fabricated bombs. It is absurd to suggest it is "normal" to release information on bomb-making devices. Where's the investigation into how this sensitive, classified, and important information from an Echelon-ally was handled, forwarded, and reviewed?

    This isn't a law enforcement issue. This is a matter of criminal law, and preserving state secrets during a time of warfare. Who is the NYPD to play this off as "just a mistake." What a bunch of non-sense. I can imagine that the same people who did nothing about the Plame-name-leaking are going to look for an excuse to do nothing on this as well.

    Wow, there's already an empaneled grand jury in Chicago. We have a summer to spend time reviewing this. Why not send this case over to Chicago and let them rummage through it, and see if this incident tends to raise further doubts about the President's statements, or the White House oversight of personnel in either JTTF, CIFA, DoD, DoJ, or the US Attorney's office.

    Wasn't there a "we can't let this happen again"-mantra out of the US Attorney's office in New Jersey, and that was the "justification" to go after that guy in New York? They spent months putting pressure on him, going so far as to work with the Russians to have the dummy-missile shipped.

    NYPD and JTTF sure aren't on the same wavelength on this. Wow, all that pressure to intimidate protestors for "national security reasons" [which was non-sense] and fabricating evidence to detain RNC protestors; but give them a chance to leak sensitive information related to ongoing combat operations, investigations, or information from Echelon . . . and you've got your fine NYPD there, ready to leak to the world how to make bombs.

    With a JTTF and NYPD like this, who needs AlQueda?

    Where are the American supervisors?

    Where are the US supervisors in overseeing the NYPD in this press release? Can't blame the UK on this one. Americans like to point to someone else, "But they said it was OK. IT was all confusion."

    Leaks to smear are OK

    US cries about information being release in media, but it's OK if they do it. US is upset when information about organization is released [unless they want to smear someone]

    Ann Wright

    Wants leaks.


    The US and UK take different approaches to these issues. The UK is serious, the Americans four years after 9-11 would rather impose the consequences on the population, and not mobilize, but still leak information.

    That is called a leadership, accountability, and discipline problem. The same non-sense behind the leaking of the Plame-name.